The state capital boasts of hosting the Convention of Parties (COP-11) in October last year, where the state government promised to do its best to preserve the environment and forests in the state. However, statistics show that far from preserving its bio-diversity, the state has lost almost double the number of wild animals in 2012 as compared to 2011. And of the total 23 wild animals that were killed in the last two years, 12 of them were endangered.
Between April 2010 and March 2011, eight wild animals were killed, of which six were endangered, and for the same period in 2011 - 2012, 15 animals were killed, which include six endangered species. And among the six, five were panthers.
“They were killed mostly in Anantapur. This happens when areas which were forests earlier are converted into agricultural lands. And in this man-animal conflict, animals are killed,” explained AV Joseph, principal conservator of forests and chief wildlife warden of Andhra Pradesh.
He added that once the matter came to notice of the forest department, immediate action was taken against the persons responsible for the acts. “The jail sentence goes up to three years. There is no fine to pay but only conviction,” Joseph said. Only two panthers were killed in 2011 as compared to the five in 2012. Two elephants, which are also endangered species, were reported dead in 2011. “We suspect it is a case of electrocution rather than poaching or hunting,” ascertained the warden.
The third endangered species, two of which were killed last year and one this year, is the wolf. “Wolves are like dogs. They turn rabid in nature and attack people. When that happens, it is natural that one defends himself, which was the case with these deaths. It was not a matter of hunting,” Joseph said.
Other wild animals that were killed include the blackbuck, spotted deer, Indian bison, sloth bear, crocodile and wild boar.
Joseph further added that the black buck, spotted deer, Indian bison and wild boar were primarily killed for their meat. “The black buck is a menace is Kadapa and Kurnool districts, where their numbers are increasing rapidly due to the expansion of agricultural fields. It provides them more sustenance,” he said, adding that Indian bison was hunted by a particular tribe near the Chattisgarh border.
However, the two crocodiles that were found dead in 2012 puzzles the officials.
“Rest assured, there exist no structured hunting syndicate in Andhra Pradesh,” he assured.